‘Tis the season for reflection. 2018 has been a whirlwind of a year, full of movement on a national scale and in the field of higher education. I’ve experienced so much during my first year working in student affairs and at an association, from getting to hear an inspirational keynote from Justice Sotomayor at our annual conference, to visiting new cities and campuses as part of a national study on student employment. This year has evolved my understanding of equity and student success, and has presented opportunities that have helped me better understand my strengths, weaknesses, and preferences as a professional.
After thinking about what I’ve learned and what I hope to see in the future, my wish for 2019 is that we – as individuals, an association, and as a collective system of higher education – continue to dream big. My hope is that we give ourselves the space to think boldly about what we want the future of higher education to look like, no matter how challenging or unpaved the path to achieve that dream may seem. I’ve found that vision-setting can be an energizing process that can help us overcome implementation dips, reflect up to see where our work fits in the bigger picture, and remind us of the important reasons why we are in this space.
In the spirit of reflection, I asked a few members of the NASPA Research and Policy Institute (RPI) team to join me in sharing what they’re wishing to see in higher ed next year.
Amelia Parnell, Vice President for Research and Policy
“My wish for 2019 is that every higher education professional, regardless of function, location, and position type, accepts an opportunity to share what they’ve learned. One of the many strengths of the higher education enterprise is the community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, advocates, and students. We each have something to share and learn and I hope that the year ahead will bring greater connections between all of us.”
Elise Newkirk-Kotfila, Director of Advising Initiatives
“In 2019, I hope to see continued momentum on campuses as they define the ideal student experience from recruitment through graduation. I have been so excited to see student and academic affairs work to clarify academic pathways while simultaneously identifying student needs and providing more holistic student supports.”
Diana Ali, Assistant Director of Policy Research and Advocacy
“My wish for 2019 is that we continue to look past political differences in order to work towards efficient and student-centered policy improvements to higher education. This past year growing party polarization lent to an inability for Congress and state legislatures to compromise at the expense of marginalized students and members of the higher education community. I hope that all levels of the higher education and policy communities continue to listen across disciplines and levels of practice to create solutions that really work for those most vulnerable. I want a more equitable 2019 than 2018 had to offer, and this is something I wish for every New Year.”
Amy Geist, Director of Strategic Initiatives
“My higher ed wish is for every institution to commit to gaining an understanding of the needs of its student population and expanding or implementing some kind of support resource for students in financial crisis. The tools and resources available on Student ARC are there to help institutions assess their situation and learn from the work of other colleagues. One step could be to gather a team and take the Emergency Aid Rubric, for a way to identify areas of focus in the coming year. Another way to commit to expanding support is by sending institutional representatives to the 2019 NASPA Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education, which brings together four unique conferences focused on a variety of tactics and research related to student success.”
Teri Lyn Hinds, Director of Policy Research and Advocacy
“Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. As the signature piece of legislation governing federal involvement in higher education, including all Title IV financial aid programs, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is already several years overdue. Updating the provisions of the legislation to ensure today's students are able to access and complete affordable, high quality educational credentials will be tough to do with divided control of Congress, but many of the broad goals already enjoy bipartisan support. Republican term limits on committee leadership set the 116th Congress up as the last time Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) can leave his stamp on our nation's landmark higher education bill, giving him extra incentive to work with colleagues to find bipartisan solutions.
Continued interest and engagement in our democracy. Collectively, student affairs professionals represent thousands of voices; working together we can make a powerful noise with policymakers on behalf of our students and our profession. Engaging with our representative democracy is essential to maintaining the health and function of our nation’s government and student affairs professionals are in key roles to engage personally and professionally. Whether it's responding to the notice and comment period for the Title IX proposed rule, supporting students in coordinating letter writing campaigns, or joining with colleagues through NASPActs events and initiatives, there are lots of opportunities!”
Omari Burnside, Assistant Vice President for Strategy and Practice
“All I want for 2019 is for NASPA and our members to continue to build, advance, and enjoy. Build upon the lessons we have learned in 2018. Advance the great work that has been done to increase student success. And, enjoy and find new ways to deepen our love for the work that we do!”
Jill Dunlap, Director for Research and Practice
“My hope for 2019 is a final version of the Title IX rules that doesn’t devastate reporting of sexual violence on college campuses. I am completely in awe of the sheer number of groups that have formed to ensure that the Department takes seriously its responsibility to keep all students safe and to ensure that institutions do the same. All of this activity (from campus comment-writing parties to rallies) speaks volumes about our ability as student affairs professionals to engage in policy advocacy, but our important obligation to encourage student civic engagement on important topics as well. Keep the comments coming and Happy New Year!”
We wish our members happy and healthy holidays, and hope that all your wishes for student success come true!